Monday, April 28, 2014

How Do I Pick?

I've had a lawn before.  And I had a 20x20 garden plot for a few years.  I know about outdoor work, and what needs to be done.

That is the case here on the farm.  I know about outdoor work, and I know what needs to be done.  The issue before me is, how do I prioritize the tasks?  If I mow the garden paths in the big garden...then I don't have time to spend prepping the beds.  If I haul more wood to the burn pile, we could get another evening burn in before the burn ban...but that is time I could spend weeding the flower garden.  I could dig dandelions all day...but I would hardly make a dent, so I have to set an timer to make me stop.  And I don't even have to worry about mowing the fields, because the Husband does that.

Something I tell my acting students is, "If everything is important, then nothing is important."  And I am trying to think in that way here.  If I try to do everything, then nothing will get done... including showering, meals, my writing, and looking through all the lovely pictures I've taken of spring on the farm and still haven't shared.

So, my choice today is to quickly summarize the amazing share-worthy stories and pick some awesome photos.

Top Ten Stories
1. We've had two bonfires in two weeks.  I'm getting good at building the proper structure.

2. We lost Vader to a fox three days after Elastigirl, but gained a lovely girl named Pickles.  She's an escape artist, so she will be uniquely suited to a free-range environment.

3. The kitchen garden is doing beautifully!  Lettuce, kale, beets, peas, and Swiss chard are doing well, and I don't know what the onions and carrots are doing.

4. Turtlezilla has been sighted.  A lovely duck and her mate lost all the eggs she was guarding on the raft.  Sad.
5. While the Husband and I were hauling wood for the last pile, a frog suddenly appeared on his glasses...and just sat there.

6. The entire path around the farm got mowed, because the swamp finally dried out enough to the take the tractor down there.  Now we have 4 inches of rain expected this week.  Boo!

7. We dug out the fire pit...which had been looking more like a fire mound, and hauled all the muddy-ash mixture down Clarence's holes.  Take that, groundhogs!  I also dumped all the weeds I pulled while prepping a bed in the big garden down another of his holes...  Probably just a snack for him, but it felt good doing it.

8. Katt had another decline.  I took her to the vet, and apparently our dear kitty has a pretty bad heart murmur AND high blood pressure.  I have my freaking cat on aspirin, and blood pressure medication.

9. Amy has gained about six pounds since her last vet visit.  She's more active, she cannot get to Katt's food anymore... so she is now banned from the mudroom at all times so we can prevent her from eating cat poo.  The vet said that is pretty high fat content.  I think it is pretty gross.

10. I finally had a big party here.  It was fun, and I have learned that I must never walk around with a wine glass again.  Somehow, it kept filling itself... But, to have so many wonderful friends, both new and old, made for a wonderful evening.

And that is all the news.  Now... to run off and weed before the rain starts.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Tribute to Elastigirl

[Today we have a guest writer, known to you all simply as The Boy.  He told the story, all I did was type.  We have GOT to stop naming our chickens.]

Elastigirl died on Friday.  A fox or an eagle or hawk got her.  All that remained were her feathers.  When we were driving in the car on our driveway, we saw a whole bunch of white feathers.  My mom saw them first.  She opened the door and got out of the car and quickly walked to the feathers.  I said, “I hope Elastigirl didn’t die.”  Daddy drove the car to the chicken coop.  We saw six chickens under the bushes.  Mommy ran up and I asked if Elastigirl died.  Mom checked the chickens and said, “Elastigirl died.”

I started crying really hard.  Mommy hugged me, and then Daddy and I sat on a stump while I cried.  He said that he was sorry that Elastigirl died.  We put the chickens in the chicken coop and then went inside.  And then I asked Mommy to gather ElastiGirl’s feathers.

I was sad.  Because ElastiGirl was sweet and loveable.  I could pick her up and even if you weren’t wanting to pick her up, she would just squat down because she was used to people.

She had brown and white feathers, and she had down.  She was young, but we thought she was the leader.

I am mad at the hawk, and I wish I had been there to scare the hawk away.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Gardening With Help

Flowers are blooming, and the kitchen garden has been planted. Mostly. I mean, the main beds have been planted. And two side beds have been weeded. I still need to do the cold frame beds, which are currently protecting a glorious tangle of weeds.

But the point is, I have seeds planted and hopefully beginning to do their thing.  A lettuce mix, kale, Swiss chard, sweet pea, onion, carrot and beet.  I am getting hungry already.

I had a lot of help, truth be told.  Gardening really becomes a group project on a farm, I am discovering.  So, thanks are in order.

First, I am thankful the Husband helped clear the side beds of a strange weed that has roots that are thick and orange like carrots...but are not carrots. But Country Kitty's rose is able to breathe again, as are the lilies or irises or whatever else is planted in the bed alongside.  Also, the beds are ready for me to plant something there.  Not sure what, but I am thinking marigolds.  Lots and lots of marigolds.

Next, Amy also helped...sorta.  She kept me company, and showed me where every smell was in the enclosed garden by rolling in it.  Dogs are so freaking nasty sometimes.  I wound up banning her from the garden enclosure after she walked across a freshly prepared bed--she weighs 70 lbs, and I don't need my soil compacted, ya know?  So, she diligently patrolled the area to make sure that no evil squirrels could sneak up and kill me.  I feel safer knowing she's there to chase off those naughty wee beasties.

The most unexpected help came from the chickens.  They were mighty interested when I was preparing the beds, turning over soil with lots of bugs and interesting plants.  But they got serious in their interest when I began harvesting the composted soil.   
So much supervision!  After I added it to the beds and began preparing to plant the seeds, they were all micromanaging the choices.  And when I accidentally spilled the lettuce seed, two girls were immediately fighting over the spoils.  I admit to having a stern discussion with Ginger and ElastaGirl about whether or not this was a good choice...before I chased them out of the garden.

On Saturday, I planted the second phase of seeds, which were to be in the
second bed.  I had hardly opened the gate and brought in my tools and seeds before I had ALL SEVEN GIRLS in there, busily scratching and finding tasty things to eat.  Ever try to chase a chicken when you are trying avoid stepping across a garden bed?  I swear I could hear them cackling at me.

Which led to the best help that I got the entire time.  The Husband very sweetly came into the garden and helped me catch each chicken so I could toss them over the fence.  

And he didn't even laugh at me.  Much.

In other news, guess who's back? be continued.

Monday, April 7, 2014


I could bore you to tears with how bad my allergies got last week, how I contemplated on whether or not I might be turning into a zombie, and how that turned into a discussion about whether I might be more interested (as a zombie) in wine or just the sommelier.

No, I won't tell you about the combination of medications I've been taking, or the fact that I lost two days pretending to be a slug.  Or, how I got to attend a birthday party wearing a mask over my nose and mouth.

No, I will direct this entry to what is foremost on my mind.  Mud.  Because, April showers bring May flowers.

I feel virtuous.  I spent an hour today clearing two garden beds for seeds.  I'll be planting beets and carrots and lettuce and kale, swiss chard and onions and peas.  Tomorrow, I'll add a barrow of lovely compost to mix it all up, and then press seeds into the soil in a semi-organized fashion.  But today, I cleared the beds of all remaining vegetation, I turned all the soil thoroughly, and I picked out the usual spring harvest of rocks.  Amy wandered around, keeping me company.  Even Elasta-girl came by, scratching where I cleared.  I hope she found lots of naughty bugs to eat.  

But, I did all this in the rain.  And it was raining most of the night.  Two words:  fashion nightmare.  From my head to the soles of my boots.

I wore my pretty red raincoat with a ball cap to keep the rain from my eyes.  There is mud all over the hood, and a bit on the brim of the cap.

My raincoat itself looks as though I lay down and wallowed in the mud.  I am not certain how that happened, since I was always on two feet.  But there is mud on the shoulders, up and down the arms, all along the sides, and smears all over the front.  The bum is still red.

My pants, of which only the knee to mid thigh were exposed, had mud on the knees, behind the knees, and a smear about where the coat ended.

The muckers... Well, they are no longer a nice dark chocolate.  They now look like lumpy milk chocolate.

And the lined leather gloves have fat fingers now.  Fat with encrusted mud.

What's that you say?  Pics or it didn't happen?

It happened.  But there will be no pics.  I wouldn't want word to get out about how bad my hair looked.